Kazakhstan: Preparing a dynastic succession

3 min
Manfred Stamer
Manfred Stamer Senior Economist for Emerging Europe and the Middle East

After holding the presidency since 1990, Nursultan Nazarbayev resigned last week. However, he will almost certainly retain crucial political influence as specific arrangements ensure that he remains the (lifelong) chair of the Security Council, the chair of the ruling Nur Otan party and a member in the Constitutional Council. According to the Constitution, Senate Speaker Tokayev will serve the remainder of Nazarbayev’s term until the next presidential election, scheduled for April 2020. Meanwhile, Dariga Nazarbayeva, Nazarbayev's eldest daughter, was elected as the new Senate Speaker, indicating that a dynastic transfer of power is targeted. However, such an outcome is not for sure. There are factions among the ruling elite who might oppose a dynastic succession and an intra-elite power struggle in the run-up to the election cannot be ruled out. Political risk in Kazakhstan thus remains elevated. On the economic front, real GDP growth is forecast to decelerate from +4.1% in 2018 to about +3.3% in 2019 as oil output is likely to decline somewhat this year because several oil fields are scheduled for maintenance. Meanwhile, inflation fell to a 41-month low of 4.8% y/y in February.